Dream11 parent to say no to Chinese money: CEO Harsh Jain

Dream Sports, the parent company of India’s largest fantasy sports platform Dream11, will not raise new funds from Chinese investors, according to Harsh Jain, CEO and co-founder of the USD four billion firm.

Amid the straining Indo-Chinese relations due to geopolitical disputes in Ladakh and other border regions and the Indian government’s push for Atmanirbar Bharat (self-reliant India), Dream Sports will stay clear from Chinese money.

“We are not looking to raise money ever again from Chinese investors,” Jain told the Economic Times. “We are in a unique position of being a product that's made in India, only by Indians and for Indians.” 

Tencent Holdings, a Chinese technology giant which owns messaging platform WeChat and web portal QQ.com, was one of the early investors of Dream11. It currently holds less than 10 per cent stake in the Indian firm and is gradually reducing its holding through asecondary sale of shares.

Dream Sports isn’t the only Indian company to have attracted wealthy Chinese investors during its startup days. Food tech unicorns Zomato, and Swiggy, along with digital payments platform Paytm, and edtech firm Byju’s have also been backed by capital from across the border.

Dream Sports aims for diversification before public offering

Harsh Jain revealed Dream Sports’ goal of becoming a sports technology giant, rather than just a fantasy gaming company.

“Our focus now is on diversification,” he said. “We have one good core business (Dream11) which has market leadership in its area. Now, we want to go and build the YouTube, Gmail and Google Maps of sports. Want to build an Alphabet-like entity, not just Google Search.”  

The Mumbai-based company has already started its race towards becoming a sports conglomerate with a varying range of interests and subsidiaries.

Apart from fantasy gaming platform Dream11, Dream Sports boasts several other startups in its portfolio, including multi-sports aggregator FanCode, sports travel & experiences platform DreamSetGo, payment solutions DreamPay, and an investment program called DreamX.

Jain did not rule out the possibility of going public but emphasised diversification before heading to the stock markets with an initial public offering (IPO).

“We want to go public as a sports tech company. For that we need to have a substantial portion of our business coming from non-fantasy sports,” Jain informed.

Fantasy sports platform Dream11, which is the biggest revenue generator for Dream Sports, has more than 100 million registered users and was the title sponsor of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020.